Meet Breast Cancer Grad- Starla Smith
Name: Starla Smith
Age at Enrollment: 41
Major: Breast Cancer Stage 3A
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis? A rubbery lump that I thought was a cyst because it would change in size at that time of the month. Also had a couple of breast exams at doctors appointments and no one thought it was anything. (I know! I know! I should have known better and not stuck my head in the sand.)
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor?: My yearly mammogram
Courses completed: 3 Rounds AC Chemo, 10 Rounds Taxol, Bilateral Mastectomy, 25 Rounds Radiation and sometime next month I'm replacing my tissue expander that has a leak.
What was your hardest moment and how did you get through it? The hardest part was the AC chemo. I just put my head down and powered through it. I have very little memory from that time. I just blocked everything out and did what I had to do.
Any helpful (tangible) tips or tricks you discovered for dealing with your symptoms and/or cancer? When they flushed my port I got that horrible taste in my mouth from the sodium and it would make me nauseous. I started bringing really strong gum to chew and that helped a lot! Also, during my Taxol treatments (when I could drink whatever I wanted), I would bring a Strawberry Cream Tea Latte from Coffee Bean with me and it would settle my stomach.
How did you find joy during this experience? I enjoyed my good days and on the bad days, I tried to focus on the future and not on what was happening. It helped a lot that I had support at work as well as at home.
Did you learn anything about yourself? If so, what was it? That I am a lot stronger than I ever thought possible and I am not scared of surgery anymore.